Are brakeless BMX bikes better than bikes with Gyro brakes?

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4/6/2020 3:48 PM

Are brakeless BMX bikes better than bikes with Gyro brakes?
Although I am no professional, I have spent roughly 10 years riding and assembling BMX bikes and am quite familiar with the sport and community. Something that has been on the forefront of my mind as of late is the topic of brakeless bikes and gyro systems - I’ve wondered about this ever since BMX hit a surge of popularity back in 2010. Throughout my time as an enthusiast, I’ve seen people riding with single rear-brake cables, gyro brake systems, and no brakes at all! BMX riders are constantly doing stunts and tricks that require their handlebars to turn and their bike frames to twist; subsequently leading to their brake cables getting twisted up and in the way. To combat or avoid this, BMX riders either remove the brake system entirely or install a Gyro (Detangler) system – a piece that allows the handlebars to turn a complete 360-degree rotation without the brake cables getting tangled up around the bike. Some may say that riding without brakes is dangerous and you’d be foolish to skip out on the gyro system, however I think it’s up to the personal preference of the individual and the style of their riding. If you’re a beginner, I would advise you not to remove your brakes, but to each their own.

Why go brakeless?
Throughout the years, riding BMX bikes without breaks has become a bit of a trend. The initial reason that BMX riders would go brakeless was to be more free to do tricks – they could throw as many bar spin or tail whip tricks as they pleased without having a brake cable limit the amount of times they are able to do so. Additionally, having no brakes on your bike means you have less to maintain and you’ll spend less time making repairs or replacing parts. It’s typical of a BMX rider to go brakeless if they want to gain better control over their bikes which also aids in the individual’s ability to perform tricks.

Professional BMX rider Boyd Hilder even said in a Redbull Bike Check video, “I prefer riding no brakes because the lever’s in my way when I pass the bars around and I don’t need to slow down - I’m trying to keep my speed.” Perhaps this is something most riders take heavily into consideration when thinking of their brake set ups - I thought about it alot as a rider and have always thought: the less maintenance, the better so I personally began to ride brakeless. Some people, like Corey Bohan in the Redbull Bike Check Video, refer to brakeless bikes as a “new school” style which truthfully just make the bike more aesthetically pleasing.

Throughout my time riding BMX bikes, I have come to find that unwinding your handlebars and frame after doing several tricks does tend to become a hassle, and the brake free look really does look a lot less messy – I’ve also never had to waste any time fixing or changing my brakes, so I can attest to that statement as well. Although I haven’t been able to find any statistical data on gyros vs brakeless setups, I’d say that it appears to be a 50/50 split between the community - this is a question that has been posed before on another thread in the Vital BMX Community and the reactions on this post were mixed; a lot of people in favor of brakeless and a lot of people in favor of gyros.



Why ride with a gyro?
Some BMX riders will tell you that riding with brakes installed on your bike holds you back from doing and learning tricks – but the gyro/detangler system is the direct answer to this problem. The gyro sits right underneath the stem and handlebars and feeds the brake cable down the forks leading to the rear brake pads.


Running a gyro system on your bike will allow you to twist the handlebars and frame in any direction any amount of times without getting tangled up. With a gyro system installed on your bike, you’ll be able to get as daring as you’d like while still being able to control your speed and stop on a dime. A gyro system could even help someone learn a trick that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do on a bike without brakes - like a tire stall! I rode a Haro about 5 years back that had a gyro system on it and although it kind of looked clunky, I was able to learn some beginner tricks on it and utilize the brakes to be sure I didn’t overdo it. Although I am brakeless now, I can thank gyro brakes for helping me make the transition from a beginner to an intermediate rider.

What are the drawbacks of riding brakeless?

Both of these styles of riding come with their own sets of drawbacks. I’ll start off with bikes with no brakes at all – they have no brakes! If you are a new rider or don’t feel comfortable jamming your foot in your tire or controlling your momentum to slow down, there’s a good chance that you could fall and hurt yourself. Some pro riders, like Sean Ricany or Garret Reynolds, ride brakeless BMX bikes and jam the soles of their shoes into their back tire in order to slow down. Although they are pro’s and do it with ease, I’m sure they are constantly ruining the bottoms of their shoes and have to make frequent purchases for new ones – it’s a good thing that these guys ride with sponsorships.

Something else one might want to take note of is the legality behind riding with no brakes. All bikes are sold with a brake set and with the intentions that you will keep them on; it’s entirely possible you could receive some sort of ticket form law enforcement (depending on where you live) if you are seen riding on public roads without some sort of brake system installed. In Pennsylvania, the Bicycle Safety Code states, “Your bike must be equipped with brakes that will stop the bike 15 feet from an initial speed of 15 mph on dry, level pavement.” Just some food for thought, but if you take your brakes off, it’s probably a better idea to keep your bike off-road and in the skatepark.

What are the drawbacks of gyro systems?
Although gyro systems revolutionized the way BMX riders rode their bikes, they also come with their own drawbacks as well. Some BMX riders might tell you that the gyro adds unnecessary weight to your bike, but they only weigh approximately 12 ounces, so it doesn’t make too much of a difference. The biggest issue with gyro systems is the maintenance that goes into keeping them up and running (i.e lubrication, replacing cables, replacement lock nuts). A gyro brake set involves two brake cables which both have the chance of fraying and falling apart; not to mention that you’ll have to clean and lubricate them often because they do become dirty and dusty after some use.

Although gyros are a modified brake system, the brake pads are still attached to your wheel so by using them more frequently, you also have the chance to strip the paint off your rims which compromises the aesthetics of the bike you are riding. One could combat this issue, however, by frequently cleaning the brake pads by removing debris or replacing the pads with a more reputable brand like eclat, odyssey, or fly bmx. Additionally, bikes with gyro brakes aren’t immune to accidents - as a lot of you may recall, pro rider Scotty Cranmer took a huge spill back in 2017 that left him with partial paralysis. Cramner was riding with gyro brakes on his bike, but was still severely injured. This goes to show that no matter what you’re doing on a bike, you’ll never be 100% invincible.

What’s the better option?
Truth be told, both brakeless BMX bikes and BMX bikes with gyro detanglers have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ve always been a fan of the brakeless set up because of how clean it looks and the lack of maintenance. However, I would recommend leaning toward the side of caution and get a gyro brake if you are a beginner or don’t feel comfortable without them. No matter which option you go with, you’ll still be able to do tricks without much inconvenience! I’ve said my part, but I would be interested in hearing from the Vital BMX community to find out which style is preferred amongst riders in this day and age.
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4/6/2020 4:05 PM

Well to start off, the gyro/rotor came along WAY before, decades (pun) before, brakeless became a "thing".. Over thirty years ago.. When the "detangler" was invented, front and back brakes were on all the sickest bikes..

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4/6/2020 4:24 PM

I think the biggest reason people ride brakeless is for simplicity/ maintenance reasons

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4/6/2020 5:07 PM

ok

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4/6/2020 7:19 PM

That’s an absolute wall of text that I can’t read at this moment, so for now my answer is no, because different people prefer different things, it’s not a matter of good/bad.

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Scooter kid trying to ride BMX.
Instagram: @scootereyn

4/6/2020 7:20 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/6/2020 7:20 PM

Brakes are better , you can bomb massive hills and do skids without ruining your shoes , and Fufanus and abubacas

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4/6/2020 8:10 PM

^^ "ruining your shoes" is the #1 reason why I'm not brakeless... Just seems like unnecessary wear and tear. lol

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4/6/2020 8:16 PM

Are you writing this for a project and you’re secretly getting us to review it? XD

This has been a topic forever, I think we’re all past the point of arguing about it.

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Scooter kid trying to ride BMX.
Instagram: @scootereyn

4/6/2020 8:18 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/6/2020 8:18 PM

What the fuck is this?

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4/7/2020 12:14 AM

Bryan91 wrote:

^^ "ruining your shoes" is the #1 reason why I'm not brakeless... Just seems like unnecessary wear and tear. lol

I've never understood this argument. There are perfectly good ways to slow down brakeless without putting your foot on your tire (which is the retard way to slow down). If you're on ramps you can't just stiffen your body instead of pumping; if you just want to slow down a bit you can kick your backend sideways like a tireslide; if you want to completely stop you just stomp the ground (which is far more effective to stop than putting your foot in your tire)

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4/7/2020 12:54 AM

Fatalize wrote:

I've never understood this argument. There are perfectly good ways to slow down brakeless without putting your foot on your tire (which is the retard way to slow down). If you're on ramps you can't just stiffen your body instead of pumping; if you just want to slow down a bit you can kick your backend sideways like a tireslide; if you want to completely stop you just stomp the ground (which is far more effective to stop than putting your foot in your tire)

Ya... Good luck putting your foot down after cranking to full speed, or bombing some hill.

At a slower speed kicking out your tire, or putting your foot down is valid, but that's not going to be the case every time.

Nice try though.

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4/7/2020 2:08 AM

I've been thinking a lot about this topic as well and all though I barely do any barspins and like a footjam whip a year I still ride brakeless 90% of the time.
I really like brake tricks but I just don't like how the bike feels with the break lever there, the cable/gyro making some noise and needs adjusting every now and then.
It's hardly a good reason to be breakless but being a sport where most people don't really care about scores but more the feel and looks of the bikes I think many people will choose brakeless over brakes.

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4/7/2020 4:19 AM

MH wrote:

I've been thinking a lot about this topic as well and all though I barely do any barspins and like a footjam whip a year I still ride brakeless 90% of the time.
I really like brake tricks but I just don't like how the bike feels with the break lever there, the cable/gyro making some noise and needs adjusting every now and then.
It's hardly a good reason to be breakless but being a sport where most people don't really care about scores but more the feel and looks of the bikes I think many people will choose brakeless over brakes.

This is true now, but back in the 2000-2010 era more people had brakes VS not-and front brakes were still a thing in the younger crowd earlier on.

Not liking a cable/lever is the best reason I have seen aside from a haggard back wheel and no cash/tools to fix (IE broken spokes).

The "adjusting now and then" part bums me out-people use that as an excuse all the time-"Brakes are too much work". I spent 15 minutes total setting up my dual upper and lower gyro cable setup including installation. I have done ZERO work to it since. Straight cables are about 5 minutes to install. Same thing. Set it and unless your cable snaps, you won't have to adjust anything for MONTHS. My front took about the same because of how my fork is. Like this comes from the same people who spend legit a FULL DAY redoing a trick they pulled because of "how it felt" or "how it looked".

If people would just be honest and say "I like no brakes" instead of coming up with excuses, it would be so much less annoying.

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"Hey anybody ever make that mistake like right when you wake up in the morning and you believe in yourself?" -Kyle Kinane

"BIKES!" -Tom Segura

4/7/2020 4:31 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/7/2020 4:32 AM

Wow. Wall of text in original post. Way to overthink things....

Ride yer damn bike!

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4/7/2020 10:52 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/7/2020 10:55 AM

For what I do thus far, I don't see any wear on the actual bottom of my shoes (Vans) from stopping "like a retard", to quote someone earlier. I have not been riding overly long and my session are shorter than most though. And I'm not usually going overly fast. Every once in a while but not often. So that's my perspective and way I ride. Some of the thin rubber on the side is peeling at the bottom though. But the sole isn't coming apart or anything like that.

"It only adds 12 ounces" Pegs only weigh such and such, double walled rims only weigh such and such. I think most guys that try to keep the weight down look at it the exact opposite. Holy crap 12 ounces. That's 3/4" of a pound. My cheap bike weighs 29 pounds. My bike now weighs 25.5 and I like that. It feels a lot better, IMHO. I'm sure some of that is good tires and build quality. But weight is weight. A 10 pound rifle feels a heck of a lot heavier than an 8 pound rifle. Especially if that weight is in a thicker barrel.

I guess maybe I'm a "weight weenie".


As far as maintenance on brakes... meh, I do have to adjust the brakes on 3 bikes I have in my family. So it happens. And I'd rather not. It's just one more thing to do. But that being said it's probably more annoying cuz yes, I prefer bikes without them or coaster brakes.

That being said, I think it's cool when people do ride brakes. And I like some of the tricks I see them do.

So to me it's the whole thing of it doesn't matter. With or without. Whatever trips your trigger. As you point out, and like anything in life, there are always upsides to downsides. It's just what you want to live with or prefer.

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Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. Insta: SilentNightSun

4/7/2020 12:12 PM

somebody doing a dissertation on bmx bikes?

I have a LOT of free time but I ain't reading that wall of text....

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4/7/2020 6:08 PM

I run a gyro on my 20. I don't do anything that requires one. I just got sick of untangling my cable when I crash.

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4/7/2020 6:59 PM

I have ridden a gyro for like 14 years. A couple years of straight cables. Once I figured out how to dial in a gyro I never went back.

For my I love tailwhips. They have become a warm up trick me after stretching.

I use my brakes when doing tailwhips. It stops my back wheel and helps make them come around faster which is a huge plus for doubles tailwhips.

I also keep my brakes locked when catching tailwhips woth the front foot. It stops my cranks from dropping down and I can clamp my back foot.

As far as taking paint off. We have clear pads and my rims are perfect. You get added noise but I don’t care.

I can’t ride brakeless. It scares me way to much.

I would be a better rider if I could get passed that fear though. Manuals would be better and I could flow so mich better.


Also with brakes you can fufanu sub boxes. So that should be the main reason to run them

Oh I still barspin with brakes but I can 100% see why people prefer not to

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4/8/2020 9:01 AM

pnj wrote:

somebody doing a dissertation on bmx bikes?

I have a LOT of free time but I ain't reading that wall of text....

I read it all. It wasn't a bad read. It seems like it was set up to be like an article on the matter. Not really asking any questions for feedback.

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Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. Insta: SilentNightSun

4/8/2020 9:27 AM

I ride without brakes because it helps me commit. Personally it has nothing to do with maintenance or looks. If I go to do something and I know I have an easy out such as brakes I’ll be less likely to commit because the point of no return is extended so to speak. I can jamb on the brakes at the last second of a stair set or gap to back out. If I don’t have brakes for me to put a foot down (because I don’t stop my tire with my foot, I got sick of buying shoes.) I’ll probably get more hurt trying to back out than I would accepting and overcoming the fear.

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4/8/2020 9:34 AM

Personal preference I ride brakeless

But no matter what a bike with brakes is going to be safer to some degree
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old edit

4/8/2020 9:40 AM

OneGuyIlluminatiEye wrote: Personal preference I ride brakeless

But no matter what a bike with brakes is going to be safer to some degree

But the best part of no brakes is when some kid on a skateboard cuts you off, you can’t slow down or avoid and you both go down lol

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4/13/2020 3:43 PM

illybwilly wrote: Are brakeless BMX bikes better than bikes with Gyro brakes?
Although I am no professional, I have spent roughly 10 years riding and assembling BMX bikes and am quite familiar with the sport and community. Something that has been on the forefront of my mind as of late is the topic of brakeless bikes and gyro systems - I’ve wondered about this ever since BMX hit a surge of popularity back in 2010. Throughout my time as an enthusiast, I’ve seen people riding with single rear-brake cables, gyro brake systems, and no brakes at all! BMX riders are constantly doing stunts and tricks that require their handlebars to turn and their bike frames to twist; subsequently leading to their brake cables getting twisted up and in the way. To combat or avoid this, BMX riders either remove the brake system entirely or install a Gyro (Detangler) system – a piece that allows the handlebars to turn a complete 360-degree rotation without the brake cables getting tangled up around the bike. Some may say that riding without brakes is dangerous and you’d be foolish to skip out on the gyro system, however I think it’s up to the personal preference of the individual and the style of their riding. If you’re a beginner, I would advise you not to remove your brakes, but to each their own.

Why go brakeless?
Throughout the years, riding BMX bikes without breaks has become a bit of a trend. The initial reason that BMX riders would go brakeless was to be more free to do tricks – they could throw as many bar spin or tail whip tricks as they pleased without having a brake cable limit the amount of times they are able to do so. Additionally, having no brakes on your bike means you have less to maintain and you’ll spend less time making repairs or replacing parts. It’s typical of a BMX rider to go brakeless if they want to gain better control over their bikes which also aids in the individual’s ability to perform tricks.

Professional BMX rider Boyd Hilder even said in a Redbull Bike Check video, “I prefer riding no brakes because the lever’s in my way when I pass the bars around and I don’t need to slow down - I’m trying to keep my speed.” Perhaps this is something most riders take heavily into consideration when thinking of their brake set ups - I thought about it alot as a rider and have always thought: the less maintenance, the better so I personally began to ride brakeless. Some people, like Corey Bohan in the Redbull Bike Check Video, refer to brakeless bikes as a “new school” style which truthfully just make the bike more aesthetically pleasing.

Throughout my time riding BMX bikes, I have come to find that unwinding your handlebars and frame after doing several tricks does tend to become a hassle, and the brake free look really does look a lot less messy – I’ve also never had to waste any time fixing or changing my brakes, so I can attest to that statement as well. Although I haven’t been able to find any statistical data on gyros vs brakeless setups, I’d say that it appears to be a 50/50 split between the community - this is a question that has been posed before on another thread in the Vital BMX Community and the reactions on this post were mixed; a lot of people in favor of brakeless and a lot of people in favor of gyros.



Why ride with a gyro?
Some BMX riders will tell you that riding with brakes installed on your bike holds you back from doing and learning tricks – but the gyro/detangler system is the direct answer to this problem. The gyro sits right underneath the stem and handlebars and feeds the brake cable down the forks leading to the rear brake pads.


Running a gyro system on your bike will allow you to twist the handlebars and frame in any direction any amount of times without getting tangled up. With a gyro system installed on your bike, you’ll be able to get as daring as you’d like while still being able to control your speed and stop on a dime. A gyro system could even help someone learn a trick that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do on a bike without brakes - like a tire stall! I rode a Haro about 5 years back that had a gyro system on it and although it kind of looked clunky, I was able to learn some beginner tricks on it and utilize the brakes to be sure I didn’t overdo it. Although I am brakeless now, I can thank gyro brakes for helping me make the transition from a beginner to an intermediate rider.

What are the drawbacks of riding brakeless?

Both of these styles of riding come with their own sets of drawbacks. I’ll start off with bikes with no brakes at all – they have no brakes! If you are a new rider or don’t feel comfortable jamming your foot in your tire or controlling your momentum to slow down, there’s a good chance that you could fall and hurt yourself. Some pro riders, like Sean Ricany or Garret Reynolds, ride brakeless BMX bikes and jam the soles of their shoes into their back tire in order to slow down. Although they are pro’s and do it with ease, I’m sure they are constantly ruining the bottoms of their shoes and have to make frequent purchases for new ones – it’s a good thing that these guys ride with sponsorships.

Something else one might want to take note of is the legality behind riding with no brakes. All bikes are sold with a brake set and with the intentions that you will keep them on; it’s entirely possible you could receive some sort of ticket form law enforcement (depending on where you live) if you are seen riding on public roads without some sort of brake system installed. In Pennsylvania, the Bicycle Safety Code states, “Your bike must be equipped with brakes that will stop the bike 15 feet from an initial speed of 15 mph on dry, level pavement.” Just some food for thought, but if you take your brakes off, it’s probably a better idea to keep your bike off-road and in the skatepark.

What are the drawbacks of gyro systems?
Although gyro systems revolutionized the way BMX riders rode their bikes, they also come with their own drawbacks as well. Some BMX riders might tell you that the gyro adds unnecessary weight to your bike, but they only weigh approximately 12 ounces, so it doesn’t make too much of a difference. The biggest issue with gyro systems is the maintenance that goes into keeping them up and running (i.e lubrication, replacing cables, replacement lock nuts). A gyro brake set involves two brake cables which both have the chance of fraying and falling apart; not to mention that you’ll have to clean and lubricate them often because they do become dirty and dusty after some use.

Although gyros are a modified brake system, the brake pads are still attached to your wheel so by using them more frequently, you also have the chance to strip the paint off your rims which compromises the aesthetics of the bike you are riding. One could combat this issue, however, by frequently cleaning the brake pads by removing debris or replacing the pads with a more reputable brand like eclat, odyssey, or fly bmx. Additionally, bikes with gyro brakes aren’t immune to accidents - as a lot of you may recall, pro rider Scotty Cranmer took a huge spill back in 2017 that left him with partial paralysis. Cramner was riding with gyro brakes on his bike, but was still severely injured. This goes to show that no matter what you’re doing on a bike, you’ll never be 100% invincible.

What’s the better option?
Truth be told, both brakeless BMX bikes and BMX bikes with gyro detanglers have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ve always been a fan of the brakeless set up because of how clean it looks and the lack of maintenance. However, I would recommend leaning toward the side of caution and get a gyro brake if you are a beginner or don’t feel comfortable without them. No matter which option you go with, you’ll still be able to do tricks without much inconvenience! I’ve said my part, but I would be interested in hearing from the Vital BMX community to find out which style is preferred amongst riders in this day and age.
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Thank you all for your feed back. This was an assignment for a college course.

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4/14/2020 8:00 AM

That makes sense. Well done.

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Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. Insta: SilentNightSun

4/14/2020 12:10 PM

Lol I knew it. XD

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Scooter kid trying to ride BMX.
Instagram: @scootereyn

4/14/2020 5:32 PM

eskimojay wrote:

Brakes are better , you can bomb massive hills and do skids without ruining your shoes , and Fufanus and abubacas

I'm sure you meant "brakes" as in front AND rear!

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4/14/2020 5:39 PM

Truth be told, I don't care about this thread as when I first opened it, I'm like: "WTF?! Someone asked a question, then proceeded to copy and paste an article as an answer as if someone else asked the question?!".

Anyway, my reply to anyone that cares is: I love brakes. Front AND rear. It opens up so many l possibilities and there's no downside other than a bit of extra weight. But if that little extra puts you over the top and ruins your abilities, you're a punk and shouldn't be riding anyway! Lol.

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4/14/2020 5:45 PM

Yeah front brakes are sick!

If I ever put brakes on mine, it'll probably be front only..

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4/15/2020 8:35 AM

I don't know how you guys did it back in the day Mishinn. Brakes, pegs that were probably heavy, heavier rims, I would think, probably heavier everything.... Extra fork pegs on top.

The one guy in another thread said his bike was like 40 pounds or something like that. I think I got my cruiser bike down to 35 pounds after shedding the chainguard, luggage rack, and fenders. I mean I just don't want to ride a bike that heavy. LOL. And getting air with one? Wowz. You guys were impressive.

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Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. Insta: SilentNightSun

4/15/2020 8:44 AM

Fortyseven wrote:

I don't know how you guys did it back in the day Mishinn. Brakes, pegs that were probably heavy, heavier rims, I would think, probably heavier everything.... Extra fork pegs on top.

The one guy in another thread said his bike was like 40 pounds or something like that. I think I got my cruiser bike down to 35 pounds after shedding the chainguard, luggage rack, and fenders. I mean I just don't want to ride a bike that heavy. LOL. And getting air with one? Wowz. You guys were impressive.

It was like that until around 2002ish? Then bikes started to get lighter and lighter.

I started in 99 on a 96 Dyno Air that was 45 lbs brakeless and pegless. Thing was heavy, but it was all we knew so we figured it out. Funny thing is I could hop that one higher than I can my current bike that is legit HALF the weight.

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"Hey anybody ever make that mistake like right when you wake up in the morning and you believe in yourself?" -Kyle Kinane

"BIKES!" -Tom Segura